À la Carte Custom Trips
Oeno-Gastronomic Private Tour of Sicily - 9 Days
Highlights: Palermo - Mondello - Erice - Marsala - Agrigento - Castelvetrano - Ragusa - Taormina - Mt Etna
The island of Sicily has a long standing history of producing a variety of notable cuisines and wines. Each area of Sicily has its individual specialty, and their savory dishes are known for incorporating the freshest of local ingredients, especially their sea food. Perhaps one of the most well-known type of Sicilian cuisine is their rich sweet desserts, of which the most well-known is the cannoli.
A Gourmet Travel Club itinerary specially designed for Abercrombie & Kent.
Pricing depends on seasonality and number traveling. Contact Gourmet Travel Club for a quote. 888-493-2010
DAY 1 ARRIVE PALERMO
Today upon arrival at Palermo airport you will be met by your Guardian Angel and privately transferred to your hotel where you will be assisted with check-in procedures. Your luxury hotel has stunning views over the Bay of Palermo, and oozes and eclectic old world charm.
DAY 2 PALERMO - MONDELLO - PALERMO
Today you will enjoy a full day sightseeing tour (8 hours) of Palermo with your local English-speaking guide and private vehicle. As you wander through the bustle of the market, stop for a typical Sicilian breakfast of granita and brioche: in Sicily they fill their brioche with Sicilian ice cream or granita, breakfast for children of all ages. Or, for the adventurous, the typical pane caneusa, a spleen sandwich can be sampled instead! The Ballaaro is an authentic feel of real Palermo, an awakening for all the senses.
Your tour will also include the Quattro Canti (heart of old Palermo), the 12th century San Cataldo Church, with its Moorish-style architecture, La Matorana with it’s beautiful mosaics. You will also visit the Palazzo dei Normanni is a palace in Palermo, Italy. It was the seat of the Kings of Sicily. The palace contains the Cappella Palatina, by far the best example of the so-called Arab-Norman-Byzantine style that prevailed in the 12th-century Sicily. The wonderful mosaics, the wooden roof, elaborately fretted and painted, and the marble incrustation of the lower part of the walls and the floor are very fine.
Famous as the summer beach escape for aristocrats, Mondello is also famous for its ice cream and granite (flavored shaved ice). Visit a local producer and sample their production inspired by local flavors like almonds, pistachio and lemon.
You will be then transferred to Monreale, located on the outskirts of Palermo, to see the stunning Cathedral and Cloisters.
DAY 3 ERICE - MARSALA - AGRIGENTO
Today you will enjoy a full day sightseeing tour to the west of Sicily with your local English-speaking driver-guide. Your tour will include a visit to Segesta, one of the finest surviving Greek temples in Sicily; also visit the theatre which offers fine views over the hills and sea.
You will also visit the beautiful village of Erice that seems to hang over the sea and where you can enjoy an almond sweet making demonstration from Maria Grammatico who was immortalized in Mary Taylor Simeti’s biography Bitter Almonds, the story of Maria’s life growing up in a convent in Erice and learning all the Nuns secret recipes for almond sweets (it was the nuns who used to make the sweets in Sicily). The marzipan sculptures made in Erice are so lifelike it is unbelievable.
The road that leads from Trapani to Marsala along the lagoon that welcomes Mozia, is bordered by salt marshes that offer a beautiful view: the bodies of water divided by narrow strips of land forming an irregular and multicolored chessboard. At times it appears in the middle of the silhouette of a windmill, a reminder of a time when it was one of the main tools to pump water and grind the salt. The show is more amazing in the summer, at harvest, when the rosy hues of the water in the various tanks and the tanks as you step inside, now dried up glisten in the sun.
The exploitation of the coastal area between Trapani and Marsala dating back to the Phoenicians, who, realizing the extremely favorable conditions, we planted the tanks to get the salt, then exported throughout the Mediterranean basin. Here begins the systematic exploitation of this portion of land, washed by shallow waters and are often characterized by high temperatures and weather conditions (first of all the wind that promotes evaporation) particularly suited to the extraction of this precious element, essential to human life.
Finally today visit the wine producing region of Marsala with a visit to the historic Florio Cellar, along with a wine tasting of the famous local wine, before heading to the southern town of Agrigento.
Meal Plan: B
DAY 4 AGRIGENTO - CASTELVETRANO - AGRIGENTO
Depart Agrigento this morning and enjoy a full day excursion (8 hours) with your private vehicle and English-speaking driver guide on Sicily’s southern coast.
In Castelvetrano you will visit the Tenuta Pignatelli, which was once the hunting grounds of the Pignatelli family and is now owned by the Becchina family. The estate sits among groves of nocellara olives and lemon trees and is famous for its olive oil, known as Olio Verde. You will enjoy a guided visit of the frantoio and olive oil tasting followed by a lunch with the estate’s owners.
After lunch your English-speaking driver guide will accompany you through the splendors of the Selinunte temples, one of the greatest colonies of ancient Greece dating back to the 6th and 5th centuries BC. Explore the fusion of Phoenician and Greek culture in the scattered ruins on the bluff overlooking the sea.
After sightseeing, return to Agrigento.
Meal Plan: B
DAY 5 VALLEY OF TEMPLES - RAGUSA
This morning you will be met by your English-speaking driver-guide and enjoy a visit to the fascinating Valley of the Temples one of the most significant archaeological sites in Sicily. The Doric Temples date from the 5th century and were destroyed in part by Carthaginian attack in 406BC. The Temples were attacked by Christians who believed them to be pagan and, later, by earthquakes.
After your visit, you will be transferred to Ragusa/Modica with your private vehicle and English-speaking driver guide. You will stop en route to Piazza Armerina and you will tour the site of Villa Romana del Casale, originally home to Maximianus Herculeus, Diocletians co-emperor, and his son Maxentius. While little remains of the building's structure, the mosaics are unparalleled and depict scenes of mythology, hunting and domestic life in beautiful detail. The visit to Piazza Armerina and Villa Romana del Casale can be sweetened by the visit to the most famous pastry shop of the area Pasticceria Diana to taste and discover the famous Torroncini and Croccante al Cioccolato.
After touring you will be transferred to your luxury resort hotel set in the heart of one of Sicily’s foremost wine estates.
The region around Ragusa is forging its name as the most dynamic food region in Sicily, with innovators opening new gastronomic restaurants to take advantage of the exceptional local produce from the region.
Meal Plan: B
DAY 6 RAGUSA
Today you will enjoy a full day excursion with your English-speaking driver-guide and private vehicle to explore the areas of Ragusa and Modica in the south-eastern area of Sicily.
Visit Ragusa which is divided into two halves, Baroque Ragusa, referred to as the new town with 17th century restorations following the 1693 earthquake and Ilba, the ancient and more tranquil part.
A visit to Ragusa can be combined with a visit to a farm 10 km distance. The farmer brings the clients to take milk from the cows and show the techniques, and then he teaches how to produces cheese and especially ricotta which will be tasted directly there. The visit to the farm will end with a very rustic lunch with homemade bread, olives, smoked cheese, Pistachio cheese and local meat.
Modica is also famous for the production of the real chocolate. It is possible to organize chocolate tasting along with jam tasting, cookies made with meat and chocolate (produced only here) at the Dolceria Buonaiuto since 1880 producing the chocolate in all his forms taking recipes from the ancient legends and traditions coming from the Aztecs.
Meal Plan: B
DAY 7 RAGUSA - TAORMINA
Today you will be transferred with your English-speaking driver-guide and private vehicle from Ragusa to Taormina (8 hours).
En route you will stop in the delightful Baroque village of Noto. Visit the breathtaking Cathedral, renowned for the beauty of its architecture, opulent marble altars and recently added frescoes. The cathedral underwent a major restoration in 2007 after sections of the roof collapsed in 1996.
Continue on to Syracuse. For 27 centuries the city of Syracuse has been of great economic and cultural importance. From the prehistoric populations to the Corinthians who founded the Greek city, to the introduction of Baroque architecture. The Greek Theater in Syracuse is one of the most important examples of theatre architecture anywhere and for centuries it was the center of Syracusan life. The site also served as a stone quarry and orchard, see the vast chambers dug out of the rock including the ‘Dionyssos’ Ear’ a cave with amazing acoustic qualities. A visit is completed with the Roman Theater, a venue for entertainment over the Greek Theater which served a religious purpose.
Visit also the charming neighborhood of Syracuse known as Ortygia. This little island connected to the main city of Syracuse is a listed UNESCO World heritage site and, has always been a strong focal point of the city as its history dates back to the 6th century BC.
In the afternoon it’s time to learn the art of Sicilian cooking with behind the scenes access to Don Camillo’s chefs and kitchen. Lean how the chef prepares the dishes, and especially how he prepares the mis en place, a true work of art.
Your day ends in Taormina, with stunning views over the Bay of Naxos and Mount Etna.
After touring you will be transferred to your hotel in Taormina.
Meal Plan: B
DAY 8 MOUNT ETNA
Today you will enjoy a full excursion (8hrs) with your private vehicle and English-speaking driver guide to explore Mount Etna. One of the world's largest active volcanoes, the Romans believed Mount Etna to be the God of Fire. Once on Mt Etna you may wish to take a seat on the public Jeep excursion with mountain guide which takes you near to the rim of the crater or alternatively use a chair lift.
As you travel around the volcano, you will notice how lush the bottom slopes are compared to the rest of Sicily. The volcanic soil deposited over millions of years is extremely fertile, and makes for a truly unique and interesting vine cultivation.
The Barone di Villagrande estate sets on Etna’s slopes at an altitude of 700 metres above sea level. The vineyards, dominated by the estate, slope down towards the sea into a natural amphitheatre. These lands, which have always belonged to the family, give birth to wines that, since 1727, have been perpetually placed on local and international markets.
For more than 10 years now, the company has taken up a project on the island of Salina - the production of the “passito” wine (made from sun-dried grapes) Malvasia delle Lipari. You will enjoy a guided visit of the cellars & wine tasting followed by a rustic dinner in the agriturismo.
Meal Plan: B,D
DAY 9 DEPART TAORMINA
Today you will be transferred by private vehicle to the Catania airport for your flight home. Time permitting, the market in Catania is not to be missed, where the fresh catch of the day is brought straight in from the fishermen.
Meal Plan: B
Palermo: Hilton Villa Igiea
Agrigento: Villa Athena
Taormina: Grand Hotel Timeo
Mount Etna: San Domenico Palace or Grand Hotel Timeo